Wednesday, 28 January 2009

The New Inn @ Common

I'm rather distracted by my new found speed, thanks to my new bicycle

The New Inn opens tomorrow - when I was in Common last week to interview Jim it was looking like it'll be shaping up to be something pretty damn awesome. Hopefully I'll get to swing by tomorrow, at at least sometime this weekend, to have a gander at the finished product. 

Monday, 26 January 2009

Interspecies @ Cornerhouse

If - like me - you haven't had a chance to see the opening  of Interspecies at Cornerhouse all is not lost. My good friend Samscam was there with his trusty SLR and got some rather awesome photographs - including the soon to be legendary lady with pig!

Check them out over on Sam's Flickr page

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Jam Packed & Marmalade Fuelled

You turn your back for one moment, indulged in one or two duvet days - and all of a sudden everything creeps up on you. It’s both incredible and depressing.

In my minds eyes the future is where everything and anything is achievable, every art and social event firmly pencilled in with the rest of my life commitments - the present where I am floundering, trying not to over sleep, over indulge in discount wine and over spend on bicycle fripperies.

What am I trying to get at?

Well, mostly that EVERYTHING is happening over the next few weeks, and to make matters worse they are bunching together on the days when I’m working over in Oldham.

Tonight is the first Moves Night at the Greenroom. My capitalisation, not theirs. This is an industry event where artists involved in the Moves09 festival can show “work in progress.”

Tomorrow, it is the opening of the new show - Seeing Beyond - at the Chinese Arts Centre, featuring photography with a medical themes.

It's indicative that I've been spending too much time thinking about the internet that I find it both amusing and frustrating that the Centre comes so far down the results when you type 'Chinese Arts Centre' into Google.

Next week? Kicks off with monkeys at Cornerhouse on the 24th. The end of the week is equally jam packed. New play - Absolutely Frank - opens at the Oldham Coliseum, Jim Medway presents his reimanginging of Common and the ever popular Critical Mass.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Not Part of NYE 17/01/2009

Saturday night’s Not Part of NYE at the Dancehouse Theatre, Oxford Road, was a disappointment. Although the organisers may been good naturedly providing a venue for Manchester’s unsigned music, theatre, comedy and film makers, they basically failed to provide for anyone who wasn’t a performer or related-to/friend-of/fucking a performer. I was there with friends to see the Hatstand Medicine Band after a cracking experience with the folk train - and for once in my cynical life approached an evenings entertainment with high hopes and good make-up.

Perturbed by the strange sweaty bar, and confused by why it was so packed, my companions and I brought ourselves drinks and entered the main auditorium. Seated comfortably we caught the tail end of a compère. Then the reason for the bar being so rammed was revealed - despite no other indication - we were informed there was no drinks to be had in the auditorium. Without complaint we left and went looking for the art.

First I should make it clear that my buddies and I are all veterans of many an art opening - I have got drunk in galleries almost as many times as I have visited galleries. It’s not big or clever - but it’s an unacknowledged fact that art exhibitions nearly always go better with a glass of wine on hand. The art works were pretty desultory, illustrative teenaged things which would be instantly, laughingly rejected from Amelia’s Magazine. I did spot some rather attractive looking canvases on the other side of the room, but before I could investigate I was asked to leave because of the offending glass of wine I was holding.

Without a mutter of dissent we agreed to shuffle off, but before we were even half way to the door the messenger was accusingly carping about “being shot” - I have no idea if I said anything to this apart from perhaps attempting a placating smile. The messenger then produce a pure bred cubic zirconia gem of a comment - “You understand we have to be careful with such beautiful art works...

My rights to being an art critic may be self proclaimed, only based upon a paltry four years in academia - but if I can be trusted to stumble about the Royal Academy with a glass of bubbly, with trust fund chinless-wonders galavanting about to the left and right, we can be trusted by the temporary exhibition in a rehearsal room at the Dancehouse.

At this point it became apparent that the only place you were allowed a beverage in an open container was the bar area, but not once did anyone mention this. I know it may be a condition imposed by the venue - but it should have been made clear when we brought the tickets, or at least some prominent signs, not by grumpy and misleading attendants.

We wandered into the second auditorium to see , what turned out to be rather sexist, short film, and made the rookie mistake of sitting near the front. Without warning a stand up comic appeared and promptly took cheap, lazy shots at everyone near the front. The next guy, St Joseph, was a real mixed bag. His anecdotes were overly drawn out and laboured, although the occasional bizarre ranty gem did appear. I have a theory that he needed the impetus of hecklers to riff off, at the end basically inviting heckles which did not appear - apart from my valiant defence of the cute girls who work in Rusholme Lidl which spurred him onto a rather eloquent soliloquy about a strange women who works in Morrisons in Didsbury... 

Wandered back to the main auditorium for Trudy and Judy, which similarly was at moments hilarious and others painfully laboured.

What else?

I know this must seem rather rabid and cruel, but I lack the generosity that the organisers of this event seems to expect from it's audience. I approached the evening with, for me, an unusually positive attitude and was rather disappointed. 

There should be a place we new acts can take place, but if you are going to charge so much and hype the event up in such a way there should be better organisation and, dare I say it, some scraps of customer service. Although the staff were only rude a few times, combined with a few pathetically low quality and pretentious acts,  it combined to something which was mostly an rather unpleasant evening. 

Luckily, despite feeling fatigued by the near constant drivel and shuffling from room to room without the comfort of booze, the last act really pulled out the stops. Despite uneven and uncomplimentary mixing, Dr. Butler’s Medicine Hatstand Band were great. They have brilliant stage presence and were, as they were with the Folk Train, a joy to behold and be-ear.

Additionally, to rescue what could have been a dire waste of eight quid the compère who welcomed them onto the stage and demanded encore was the most charismatic and amusing comic I witnessed that evenings, despite rather shambolically seeming to have a rather lose grasp on what exactly was happening. I didn’t catch his name, but he was a charming fella with a luxuriant head of ginger hair. What’s his name?

What am I trying to get at? Essentially I don’t like anything that tries to be too smugly cool and inclusive. The Impressionists may have been rejected from the Salon, but that does not mean that everything in the Salon des Refusés should share their notority.

Also, the Dancehouse may not be the best venue for this type of event. If there had been a more liquid supply of booze things would have slipped along more smoothly. I would have had much more fun, and been much more forgiving, if this event had taken place in a squat or similar type of venue.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

A quick ( and incomplete ) round up of January events...

Working life is taking some adjustment after the long months of unemployment. Loving the new job, but missing having all that time and energy to spend on mooching and art perusing.

Lots of arty and media related stuff to put in your diary going on in Manchester this month. This short list is a combination of some great looking new stuff and a few goodies continuing on from last year. 

Tuesday the 13th is the beginning of the University of Salfords's MA Contemporary Fine Art Show. This show case take place in three different venues over nearly a month.

The show is centred on the Chapman Gallery with further work showing at the Allerton Annexe on the Salford Campus, with an outpost at one of my favourite venues, the Nexus Art Café.

Wednesday the 14th is the Social Media Cafe at the recently refurbished Northern.

On Thursday the 22nd a new exhibition opens at the Chinese Arts Centre. Seeing is Believing features the work of video and photographic artist Eric Fong.

Laura White's If I Had a Monkey I Wouldn't Need a TV - which I wrote about for City Life - continues at the Castlefield Gallery until the 25th of January. 

Speaking of continued exhibitions and City Life - the lovely exhibition of paintings by Nicoletta Ceccoli continues at Richard Goodall Gallery until the 31st of January. My temporarily misplaced preview piece is up on the City Life website.

The awful Intertwining Line is finally over, and the much more exciting looking Interspecies takes over the galleries at the Cornerhouse on the 23rd. 

Jim Medway - who I only discovered this weekend has a massive canvas in Manchester Art Gallery - is transforming Common Bar in the Northern Quarter. Starting on the 29th of January, it sounds pretty ace and his last exhibition/revamp of common looked great too. Check out pictures of when he turned Common into a record shop on his blog here or join the facebook event here.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

A Feverish Collection of Links

Christmas is over, although tinsel and festive songs still linger on like a week long hangover. Santa shaped chocolate is discounted in Lidl, and resolutions are postponed by behemoth super-colds. Rolling around in my sick bed, name brand tissues seem like sheer decadence and any complicated thought about art is pretty much hopeless. The most complex thought processes have been reduced to how much I hate dolphins and pandas,  as well as worrying about why I dreamed about marrying Mark Lemarr. 

If you're musically uncouth and uncool ( like me ), you may be wondering what you missed out on last year . The ever pleasantly rock'n'roll John Alison presents a round up of 2008's top albums. 

What visual art not to miss in 2009? Art highlights of 2009? None of it in Manchester, we need to up our game. This city is great, but we can be a bit too bloody smug and complacent. All I have to say is Urbis.... Gah! 

Heatherwick - of the curse of the B of the Bang - strikes again. Another dangerous piece of sculpture with a corporate sensibility, as capitalism ( hopefully ) finally cannibalises itself, it's interested that the most popular, dangerous and boring iconographic pieces - which could easily be a brand logo -  are beginning to be considered eyesores and dangers to life and limb. ( This may be the fever talking....

Despite liking Blake from a visual point of view I hate everyone's attitudes to the deluded nincompoop. Recreating his silly 1809 exhibition is pretty pointless, since everyone's intellectual hard-ons - as well as 100 years of chronological distance -  will prevent any useful deductions being made. It's just another chance for silly artists to look smug and touch each others bums. Trust me, they'll use it as yet another excuse to dement themselves into thinking they are modern manifestations of Blake, then inflict more substandard art on us and then crow about being an misunderstood artist when they are presented with the rejection they deserve. 

Did I mention I don't like artists?

P.S. Jonathan Jones says 'Cheer Up'